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Fermenting Modernity: Putting Akhuni on the Nation's Table in India
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
Number of Authors: 1
2015 (English)In: South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, ISSN 0085-6401, E-ISSN 1479-0270, Vol. 38, no 2, 320-335 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article, I explore notions of modernity, citizenship, belonging and transgressions in South Asia through the fermented food, akhuni. Fermented soya beans, popularly known as akhuni in Nagaland, a state in Northeast India with a majority tribal population, has a distinct pungent aroma and taste. This food is relished across the eastern Himalayan societies, including Nagaland, but routinely causes conflict between akhuni consumers and those who find the smell revolting. In 2007, due to increasing akhuni conflict in New Delhi, the Delhi police produced a handbook t hat cautions students and workers from Northeast India and eastern Himalayan societies that they should refrain from cooking akhuni and other fermented foods. Such official directives reiterate how the state plays a significant role in legitimising or prohibiting certain foods that particular social groups in contemporary India consume, relegating these communities to a remote position in the national social and culinary order. Against the backdrop of such friction, this article examines why akhuni consumers of the eastern Himalayan societies assert that eating fermented food is an integral part of their culture and history. Conversations about eating cultures, I argue, have to be understood as expressions of resistance, negotiation and the anxieties of striving to be a modern tribal in contemporary India.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 38, no 2, 320-335 p.
Keyword [en]
eastern Himalayas, akhuni, Modernity, citizenship, fermented food, Northeast India
National Category
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119001DOI: 10.1080/00856401.2015.1031936ISI: 000356417100013OAI: diva2:843327
Available from: 2015-07-28 Created: 2015-07-24 Last updated: 2015-07-28Bibliographically approved

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Kikon, Dolly
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